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Our View: Minnesota Senate District 21: Matt Schmit vs. Mike Goggin

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Matt Schmit and Mike Goggin
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State taxes and spending create a big divide in the race for Senate District 21, which features a pair of Red Wing natives.

Incumbent Matt Schmit , who is seeking his second term, is being challenged by Mike Goggin , who says he wants to improve his district by fighting tax increases, reckless spending and unneeded government regulation and mandates.

2013 tax bill

Asked for a specific example of where Schmit fell short, Goggin points to the 2013 tax bill, which held $2 billion in new taxes, including a warehouse tax credited with causing Red Wing Shoes to change course on an expansion project.

"They shelved a $20 million warehouse because of the tax that was included in the tax bill in 2013," the former Red Wing Shoes employee told the Post Bulletin Editorial Board.

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After the bill was passed, Wing Shoes President Dave Murphy said it delayed a decision to invest $20 million-plus in a new distribution center in Red Wing. However, the tax was never enacted. It was repealed before taking effect.

Schmit said he knew the 2013 bill, which also included a farm implement tax, was flawed. At the same time, he noted it also included $1 million for natural disaster help that Red Wing needed. "Anytime you have an omnibus bill, you're going to have things in there that you don't like," he said, noting he worked with fellow senators to repeal the warehouse and farm implement taxes as soon as possible.

As for supporting other taxes in the 2013 bill, Schmit said he was keeping a campaign promise to balance the budget after years of government shutdowns, which motivated him to seek the Senate seat.

He said that effort helped Minnesota move from years of budget deficits to a budget surplus, which has improved the state's economic outlook during his first term.

Rail

The political opponents are able to find some common ground. While neither believes the debate over Twin Cities light rail should have held up other legislative decisions, they said there is a need to ensure state transportation funding benefits all forms of transportation. "We need to make sure we're looking out for what's best for everyone in Minnesota," Goggin said, noting he saw the benefits of light rail while living in Colorado.

Both candidates also voiced opposition to the high-speed rail line proposed between Rochester and Minneapolis. While Goggin has signs posted on his vehicle to note his clear opposition, Schmit has a more nuanced approach. He said he'd oppose any system that doesn't offer benefits to residents in the corridor, but noted the state legislature has limited power. "We simply don't have many tools for regulating railroads in Minnesota," he said.

Health care

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Talking about problems with rising costs for residents who obtain health insurance through the MNsure exchange, both candidates said the system must be fixed and predict it will be the Legislature's No. 1 issue in 2017.

Both want to seek federal permission to reduce mandated districts and find new options for people to access insurance. Goggin suggests creating co-ops, and Schmit points to looking at existing programs, such as MinnesotaCare or state employees' insurance programs.

However, Schmit noted the discussions, which have already started will be difficult. In a district on the dividing line for MNsure rates, Schmit noted lawmakers in other districts have voiced opposition since a change will increase costs for their constituents.

While Goggin says he's willing and trained to work on such negotiations, Schmit has already demonstrated he is able to tackle the conversation by being part of initial talks and facing likely opposition from metro-area party leaders.

Additionally, in his first four years, the Red Wing senator has shown he can be a voice to push for priorities in his district. He has become one of the state's loudest proponents for funding rural broadband to keep all Minnesota residents and businesses competitive.

We'd like to see that initiative turned to fixes for MNsure, and we believe Schmit has the voice and burgeoning experience to do it. That is why the Post Bulletin Editorial Board is endorsing Matt Schmit for re-election on Senate District 21.

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Learn more

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The Post Bulletin Editorial Board endorsements are offered to provide one view of candidates for local and regional offices.

We encourage you to do your own research as you get ready to vote.

To find out more about the candidates in Minnesota Senate District 21, visit their websites:

• Matt Schmit

schmitforsenate.com

• MIke Goggin

www.gogginforsenate.com

For information on polling places and sample ballots, visit the Minnesota Secretary of State website at www.sos.state.mn.us.

Upcoming endorsements:

Saturday

Minnesota House, District 25A

Duane Quam vs. Linda Walbruch

Minnesota House, District 25B

Duane Sauke vs. Fran Bradley

Monday

Minnesota Senate, District 25

Dave Senjem vs. Dale Amorosia

Tuesday

Minnesota House, District 26A

Tina Liebling vs. Will Waggoner

Minnesota House, District 26B

Nels Pierson vs. John Austinson

Wednesday

Minnesota Senate, District 26

Carla Nelson vs. Richard Wright

Endorsements published:

Oct. 10: Olmsted County Board, District 3

Oct. 11: Olmsted County Board, District 7

Oct. 12: Rochester City Council, Ward 2

Oct. 13: Rochester City Council, Ward 4

Oct. 14; Rochester City Council, Ward 6

Oct. 15: Rochester City Council president

Oct. 17: Rochester School Board, Seat 1

Oct. 18: Rochester School Board, Seat 3

Oct. 19: Rochester School Board, Seat 7

Oct. 20: Minnesota House, districts 21A and 21B

Past endorsements are online at postbulletin.com/opinion

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